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And yet, when all the signs of the gathering storm, that would destroy their city and people, were clearly visible, they, the leaders of the people, failed to perceive them! Israel asked for a sign’! No sign should be given the doomed land and city other than that which had been given to Nineveh : “the sign of Jonah.'' The only sign to Nineveh was Jonah's solemn warning of near judgment, and his call to repentance—and the only sign now, or rather “unto this generation no sign,'" was the warning cry of judgment and the loving call to repentance.b

It was but a natural, almost necessary, sequence, that 'He left them and departed. Once more the ship, which bore Him and His disciples, spread its sails towards the coast of Bethsaida-Julias. He was on His way to the utmost limit of the land, to Cæsarea Philippi, in pursuit of His purpose to delay the final conflict. For the great crisis must begin, as it would end, in Jerusalem, and at the Feast; it would begin at the Feast of Tabernacles, and it would end at the following Passover. But by the way, the disciples themselves showed how little even they, who had so long and closely followed Christ, understood His teaching, and how prone to misapprehension their spiritual dulness rendered them. Yet it was not so gross and altogether incomprehensible, as the common reading of what happened would imply.

When the Lord touched the other shore, His mind and heart were still full of the scene from which He had lately passed. For truly, on this demand for a sign did the future of Israel seem to hang. Perhaps it is not presumptuous to suppose, that the journey across the Lake had been made in silence on His part, so deeply were mind and heart engrossed with the fate of His own royal city. And now, when they landed, they carried ashore the empty provisionbaskets; for, as, with his usual attention to details, St. Mark notes, they had only brought one loaf of bread with them. In fact, in the excitement and hurry they forgot to take bread' with them. Whether or not something connected with this arrested the attention of Christ, He at last broke the silence, speaking that which was so much on his mind. He warned them, as greatly they needed it, of the leaven with which Pharisees and Sadducees had, each in their own manner, leavened, and so corrupted, the holy bread of Scripturetruth. The disciples, aware that in their hurry and excitement they

So according to the best reading. ? The figurative meaning of leaven, as that which morally corrupts, was familar to the Jews. (Seor) is used in the sense of ‘moral

leaven' hindering the good in Ber. 17 a, while the verb ron (chame:) to become leavened,' is used to indicate moral deterioration in Rosh hash. 3 b, 4 a.

שאור Thus the word

BEWARE OF THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES.

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XXXVI

had forgotten bread, misunderstood these words of Christ—although CHAP. not in the utterly unaccountable manner which commentators generally suppose : as implying "a caution against procuring bread from His enemies.' It is well-nigh impossible, that the disciples could have understood the warning of Christ as meaning any such thing-even irrespective of the consideration, that a prohibition to buy bread from either the Pharisees or Sadducees would have involved an impossibility. The misunderstanding of the disciples was, if unwarrantable, at least rational. They thought the words of Christ implied, that in His view they had not forgotten to bring bread, but purposely omitted to do so, in order, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, to seek of Him a sign of His Divine Messiahshipnay, to oblige Him to show such-that of miraculous provision in their want. The mere suspicion showed what was in their minds, and pointed to their danger. This explains how, in His reply, Jesus reproved them, not for utter want of discernment, but only for 'little faith. It was their lack of faith-the very leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees—which had suggested such a thought. Again, if the experience of the past-their own twice-repeated question, and the practical answer which it had received in the miraculous provision of not only enough, but to spare—had taught them anything, it should have been to believe, that the needful provision of their wants by Christ was not 'a sign, such as the Pharisees had asked, but what faith might ever expect from Christ, when following after, or waiting upon, Him. Then understood they truly, that it was not of the leaven of bread that He had bidden them beware—that His mysterious words bore no reference to bread, nor to their omitting to bring it for the purpose of eliciting a sign from Him, but pointed to the far more real danger of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees,' which had underlain the demand for a sign from heaven.

Here, as always, Christ rather suggests than gives the interpretation of His meaning. And this is the law of His Teaching. Our modern Pharisees and Sadducees, also, too often ask of Him a sign from heaven in evidence of His claims. And we also too often misunderstand His warning to us concerning their leaven. Seeing the scanty store in our basket, our little faith is busy with thoughts about possible signs in multiplying the one loaf which we have, forgetful that, where Christ is, faith may ever expect all that is needful, and that our care should only be in regard to the teaching which might leaven and corrupt that on which our souls are fed.

CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE GREAT CONFESSION—THE GREAT COMMISSION--THE GREAT INSTRUCTION

THE GREAT TEMPTATION-THE GREAT DECISION.

(St. Matt. xvi. 13-28 ; St. Mark viii. 27-ix. 1; St. Luke ix. 18–27.)

BOOK
III

If we are right in identifying the little bay—Dalmanutha--with the neighbourhood of Tarichæa, yet another link of strange coincidence connects the prophetic warning spoken there with its fulfilment. From Dalmanutha our Lord passed across the Lake to Cæsarea Philippi. From Cæsarea Philippi did Vespasian pass through Tiberias to Tarichæa, when the town and people were destroyed, and the blood of the fugitives reddened the Lake, and their bodies choked its waters. Even amidst the horrors of the last Jewish war, few spectacles could have been so sickening as that of the wild stand at Tarichæa, ending with the butchery of 6,500 on land and sea, and lastly, the vile treachery by which they, to whom mercy had been. promised, were lared into the circus at Tiberias, when the weak and old, to the number of about 1,200, were slaughtered, and the rest - upwards of 30,400—sold into slavery.al Well might He, Who foresaw and foretold that terrible end, standing on that spot, deeply sigh in spirit as He spake to them who asked “a sign,' and yet saw not what even ordinary discernment might have perceived of the red and lowering sky overhead.

From Dalmanutha, across the Lake, then by the plain where so lately the 5,000 had been fed, and near to Bethsaida, would the road of Christ and His disciples lead to the capital of the Tetrarch Philip, the ancient Paneas, or, as it was then called, Cæsarea Philippi, the modern Banias. Two days' journey would accomplish the whole distance. There would be no need of taking the route now usually followed, by Safed. Straight northwards from the Lake of Galilee, a distance of about ten miles, leads the road to the

Jos. Jew. ar iii, 10

If it were for no other reason than the mode in which the ex-general of the

Galileans, Josephus, tells this story, he would deserve our execration.

TO CÆSAREA PHILIPPI.

73

CHAP.

1-5

e Deut. xxxiii. 23

uppermost Jordan-Lake, that now called Huleh, the ancient Merom. As we ascend from the shores of Gennesaret, we have a receding XXXVII view of the whole Lake and the Jordan-valley beyond. Before us rise hills; over them, to the west, are the heights of Safed; beyond them swells the undulating plain between the two ranges of AntiLibanus; far off is Hermon, with its twin snow-clad heads (the Hermons'), and, in the dim far background, majestic Lebanon. It Ps. xlii. 6 is scarcely likely, that Jesus and His disciples skirted the almost impenetrable marsh and jungle by Lake Merom. It was there, that Joshua had fought the last and decisive battle against Jabin and his confederates, by which Northern Palestine was gained to Israel. We b Josh, xi. turn north of the Lake, and west to Kedes, the Kedesh Naphtali of the Bible, the home of Barak. We have now passed from the limestone of Central Palestine into the dark basalt formation. How splendidly that ancient Priest-City of Refuge lay! In the rich heritage of Naphtali, Kedesh was one of the fairest spots. As we climb the steep hill above the marshes of Merom, we have before us one of the richest plains of about two thousand acres. We next pass through olive-groves and up a gentle slope. On a knoll before us, at the foot of which gushes a copious spring, lies the ancient Kedesh.

The scenery is very similar, as we travel on towards Cæsarea Philippi. About an hour and a half farther, we strike the ancient Roman road. We are now amidst vines and mulberry-trees. Passing through a narrow rich valley, we ascend through a rocky wilderness of hills, where the woodbine luxuriantly trails around the planetrees. On the height there is a glorious view back to Lake Merom and the Jordan-valley; forward, to the snowy peaks of Hermon; east, to height on height, and west, to peaks now only crowned with ruins. We still continue along the height, then descend a steep slope, leaving, on our left, the ancient Abel Beth Maachah,d the a 2 Sam. xx. modern Abil. Another hour, and we are in a plain where all the springs of the Jordan unite. The view from here is splendid, and the soil most rich, the wheat crops being quite ripe in the beginning of May. Half an hour more, and we cross a bridge over the bright blue waters of the Jordan, or rather of the Hasbany, which, under a Fery wilderness of oleanders, honeysuckle, clematis, and wild rose, rash among huge boulders, between walls of basalt. We leave aside, at

14

For the geographical details I must refer to the works of Stanley and Trisiran, and to Bädeker's Palästina. I have

not deemed it necessary to make special quotation of my authority in each case.

BOOK

III

a distance of about half an hour to the east, the ancient Dan (the modern Tell-Kady), even more glorious in its beauty and richness than what we have passed. Dan lies on a hill above the plain. On the western side of it, under overhanging masses of oleander and other trees, and amidst masses of basalt boulders, rise what are called “the lower springs' of Jordan, issuing as a stream from a basin sixty paces wide, and from a smaller source close by. The • lower springs ' supply the largest proportion of what forms the Jordan. And from Dan olivegroves and oak-glades slope up to Banias, or Cæsarea Philippi.

The situation of the ancient Cæsarea Philippi (1,147 feet above the sea) is, indeed, magnificent Nestling between three valleys on a terrace in the angle of Hermon, it is almost shut out from view by cliffs and woods. • Everywhere there is a wild medley of cascades, mulberry-trees, fig-trees, dashing torrents, festoons of vines, bubbling fountains, reeds, and ruins, and the mingled music of birds and waters.'' The vegetation and fertility all around are extraordinary. The modern village of Banias is within the walls of the old fortifications, and the ruins show that it must anciently have extended far southwards. But the most remarkable points remain to be described. The western side of a steep mountain, crowned by the ruins of an ancient castle, forms an abrupt rock-wall. Here, from out an immense cavern, bursts a river. These are sources of the Jordan. This cave, an ancient heathen sanctuary of Pan, gave its earliest name of Paneas to the town. Here Herod, when receiving the tetrarchy from Augustus, built a temple in his honour. On the rocky wall close by, votive niches may still be traced, one of them bearing the Greek inscription, ‘Priest of Pan.' When Herod's son, Philip, received the tetrarchy, he enlarged and greatly beautified the ancient Paneas, and called it in honour of the Emperor, Cæsarea Philippi. The castle-mount (about 1,000 feet above Paneas), takes nearly an hour to ascend, and is separated by a deep valley from the flank of Mount Hermon. The castle itself (about two miles from Banias) is one of the best preserved ruins, its immense bevelled structure resembling the ancient forts of Jerusalem, and showing its age. It followed the irregularities of the mountain, and was about 1,000 feet long by 200 wide. The eastern and higher part formed, as in Machærus, a citadel within the castle. In some parts the rock rises higher than the walls. The views, sheer down the precipitous sides of the mountain, into the valleys and far away, are magnificent.

• the upper

| Tristram, Land of Israel, p. 586.

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